SAN JOSE -- Vince Buhagiar, a three-year starter at middle linebacker for San Jose State, is trying his hand at outside linebacker for the Spartans.
"To be completely honest, I had a lot of fun today," Buhagiar said. "Not having to think so much allows me to relax my mind and focus on my technique and just get out there and have fun, play as hard as I can."
Buhagiar has played in all 38 games -- with 29 starts -- since joining San Jose State in 2010. He was the first true freshman to start a season opener at linebacker in school history and started all 13 games that season.
A shoulder injury hindered him in 2011 and limited him to three starts. He returned last season to start every game and was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference pick while playing the middle linebacker position, also called the Mike. The outside linebacker spot in the Spartans' new 3-4 defense features more pass rushing and edge containment.
"As coaches we're always trying to find our best 11 and get them on the field," Spartans coach Ron Caragher said. "With Vince's case, we put him at outside backer and what a team player. He responded like a champ."
Buhagiar's move to the outside has opened up a spot for redshirt freshman Christian Tago to join Keith Smith as the second middle linebacker. Garrett Guanella, Sean Bacon and Hector Roach have seen time throughout spring at the other outside linebacker spot in SJSU's new 3-4 defense. Derek Muaava will also likely be in the mix after he returns from a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in October.
"I'm willing to do anything for the team," Buhagiar said. "That's what I told (Caragher). He kind of expected me to be upset just because I've played Mike for three years. But I've been struggling, I think, at Mike so far in spring and I think moving me to outside linebacker was a really good move on his part."
Another potentially key position change has seen junior wide receiver Sean Linton switch to cornerback, where he brings some size to the position with his 6-foot-1 frame. He's received some repetitions with the first team.
One of the key position battles remains the left tackle position as the Spartans look to replace David Quessenberry, a three-year starter who is expected to be taken in April's NFL Draft.
Wes Schweitzer, a sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., appears to be the front-runner. He's received the majority of the first-team reps.
"He's getting a lot of good work," Caragher said of Schweitzer. "He's right there at the position on the cusp of being that guy. Scrimmage is coming up, live situations. That will really tell a lot."
San Jose State's first official scrimmage of the fall is planned for Saturday at 11 a.m.
Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.